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Beloved by audiences, Anthony Edwards — aka Dr. Mark Greene at Chicago County General’s ER — returns this week on the new ABC drama Zero Hour. In his TV hiatus, the California native moved to New York to raise his four children — ages 10 to 19 — with his wife, makeup artist and entrepreneur Jeanine Lobell. As his show debuts Thursday, Feb. 14, 8 ET/PT, we chat to catch up.

How is it, being back on series TV? “I’m genuinely excited to come back and tell this story. [Zero Hour] is like a Da Vinci Code mystery, surprises more than violence. ... I’ve also had the experience of people for 10 years coming up and saying, ‘What are you doing next?’ At first, I would have angry people stopping me going: ‘I don’t care about your kids and your family. Go back to work — family-shamily.’”

Why Zero Hour? “My manager — who I have been with for 150 years — read it and he knows me well enough that if it’s something that looks like nobody would do, then I’d be attracted to it. Which is the way it was with ER, remember that script? The legacy of that story is they though it was insane to have all those characters, nobody wants realistic medicine...and so Zero Hour came and I was like, ‘Really, they want to do this on network television? Well, I’m certainly game for the pilot and if it goes to series, they got to shoot in New York, and you always think that’s you’re way out but they were like, ‘We’ll do the pilot and if it goes, let’s do it in New York.’”

So the hours are manageable, it’s a day job? “The hours have been totally nuts but you know as a parent, hours that are late are nuts when your kids are 2-years-old as opposed to when you’re kids are 10- or 12-years old, is night and day. If I can get 8 hours of sleep I can do anything and that’s what I have, I have the luxury now. The kids that can take care of themselves.”

You were a stay-at-home dad? “Happily. ... Everybody I talked to was like, ‘Wow, if you have the opportunity to be with your kids when they’re younger, you’ll never have that again.’ I really took that to heart. We also took a year off and went around the world. It was spectacular because we went slowly.”

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What were your favorite destinations? “We really fell in love with Africa, which has been a big part of my charity work [Shoe4Africa] for the past five years. ... The point of the trip was to be as foreign as possible. We spent a lot of time in India, Bhutan and China, places you just don’t hop to on a five-day trip.”

And you and Jeanine have managed to stay together. Any words of wisdom? “There’s certainly no magic to any of it, other than perseverance and, really, raising this family is huge priority for us. As long as you keep things bigger than yourself, it helps with perspective. And that works for me on every level.”

You grew up in Santa Barbara, what made did you decide you wanted to raise your family in New York City? “I’ve always loved New York City. My wife was born and raised in Stockholm, cities make her really comfortable and she’s in the fashion business. She’s also an insane multi-tasker and in New York City, you can almost do seven things in two blocks. We just really love the energy of the city and we also contrast it with getting away on weekends into the country.”

You recently got your pilot’s license? “[Flying was] a longtime ambition of mine. It was hard in all the right ways. ... It was another thing I couldn’t do part-time. You want to be in a plane with someone who loves flying, not with someone who flew six months ago. ... When the kids are at school and I have a day off, I’m flying.”

And you took cooking classes. Are you the family cook? “I definitely cook the most. It’s winter now, everybody likes the nice, big, slow-cooked soups. I love making bread. I took lessons from this wonderfully eccentric French chef.... Cooking that tastes good that can feed a lot of people is what I like doing.”

Are you a big reader? “I love historical stuff. Being here in New York, I love histories of New York and early American history stuff but I find it hard to read fiction when I’m working because my mind’s kind of in the fiction of what we’re doing.”

Do you watch series TV? “As with everyone else, I’m a huge Homeland fan and [respect] the originality of Girls.”

Do you restrict TV for your children? “Growing up, they had no video games and no television, really. We’ve definitely watched a lot of movies, we have a movie night on Saturday nights, so that’s our deal. ... A lot of times when we traveled, we took every DVD of The Brady Bunch, those kinds of innocuous ’70s shows. It becomes part of movie night as opposed to being bombarded with iCarly.”

How is being 50? “For the past 13 years, I’ve been running pretty regularly, and it’s kept my energy great. Knock wood, it was like, ‘Hey, I had no idea you could feel this good at 50.’ It didn’t scare me at all. I learned to fly, kids [starting] college and now I’m back hamboning it up on a TV show. Good things, and we’ve got health, so we’re all feeling good.”

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